Pop fiction

“He hovered over us as we poured ketchup saying: good enough good enough good enough. Birthday parties consisted of cupcakes, no ice cream. The first time I brought a date over she said: what’s with your dad and that pole? and I sat there blinking.”

–George Saunders, “Sticks” (one of my favorite short-short stories about a dad)

“I don’t like to be clapped at,” the waiter said.

“I should have brought my whistle,” my father said. “I have a whistle that is audible only to the ears of old waiters.”

–John Cheever, “Reunion” (my other favorite short-short about a dad)

Listen to Richard Ford read and discuss this story  on The New Yorker‘s fiction podcast with editor Deborah Treisman. (Cheever inspired Ford to write his own “Reunion” story, set in Grand Central Station, here. And I love Nathan Englander’s quiet, melancholy riff on the father story, also called “Reunion,”  here.)

Happy Father’s Day.